Blake Tower (formerly the Barbican YMCA) is a rather wonderful building at 2 Fann Street, EC2Y 8BR, next to the ramp leading up from Goswell Road to the Barbican Estate. It is one of my favourite Chamberlin Powell & Bon buildings, mainly because of the exotic fire escape stairs. You will find their shape echoed in many other parts of the estate – such as the stairs leading down past the library from Defoe House to the Arts Centre.
It is latest building on the Barbican Estate to be converted to luxury flats and pieds à terre. Like the rest of the Barbican Estate, it is owned by the City of London. The City teamed up with Redrow Homes London to carry out the development into luxury flats. The refurbishment had had to respect the Grade II listed status of the building as a piece of iconic architecture. So, few changes were allowed to the exterior; but the building have been extensively re-modelled internally.
In all, there are 74 apartments (where the YMCA had 218 bedrooms). There are two storeys of flats below street level – Lower Ground 2 and Lower Ground 1 above it. There are flats at Ground Level and on floors 1 to 15 above. Floors 16-17 contain two duplex apartments.
The flats range from studio apartments to three-bedroom apartments. But most flats are one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartments.
List description of this building issued by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (as it then was) in 2001.
“YMCA (1965-71): 16-storey tower set off ramp at northern entrance to site from Goswell Road. The lower three floors fully glazed communal areas, with external escape stairs, the upper floors with smaller rooms set off staircases to north and south and with set-back bathrooms in the centre of the long ranges. Floor of staff flats and penthouse flat for warden. South side with projecting concrete fire escape, with glass screens flanking the exit from each floor. All windows of black painted steel, those to the rooms slightly inset with central pivots. Continuous set-back vertical glazing band to north stair. The height and position of the YMCA was designed to unite Barbican with Chamberlin, Powell and Bon’s earlier Golden Lane Estate, which features a tower of the same height.”